Five years ago, dubstep was relatively unknown — reserved for hipsters and underground web chat rooms. Then “King of Dubstep” Skrillex kick-started the dubstep boom with “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and “Bangarang,” gaining immense popularity for the blossoming genre. Now, on Skrillex’s first full-length LP, Recess, he has, again, innovated his genre and crafted a diverse, complex — albeit imperfect — showcase of his skills.
Like fellow DJ and featured artist Diplo, Skrillex shines when combining his heavy synth beats with reggae verses and instruments. On the first track, “All is Fair in Love and Brostep,” and on later tracks “Dirty Vibe” and “Ragga Bomb,” Skrillex forgoes the cliché, over-produced bass drops for a focus on the reggae voices. But instead of overshadowing the reggae with the electronics, he compliments it. It seems that Skrillex has finally found a balance between his heavy beats, which are omnipresent but not as overpowering as in his past EPs, and the softer melodies that made songs like “Scary Monsters” such hits.
Still, he continues to branch out with the inclusion of genre-definers like Chance The Rapper, who takes control of “Coast is Clear,” and R&B crooner Sam Dew who puts a Motown spin on “Stranger” — one of the album’s best, most eclectic tracks. Another standout is slow, haunting final track “Fire Away.” He even dabbles in trap, a variation on Southern hip-hop, to great effect.
But for all its eccentricity, Recess does rely on many dubstep clichés throughout. Many of the drops are bland; the best tracks are the ones where Skrillex experiments with his drops.
The album isn’t perfect, but it showcases Skrillex’s broad musical knowledge and ear for detail in his melodies. By meshing many different genres with his dubstep expertise, Skrillex has crafted a fantastic, innovative album and has re-legitimized himself as “King of Dubstep.”